Berejiklian government urged to ‘do density well’
This article is sponsored by Uniting, the Board of the NSW and ACT Synod of the Uniting Church responsible for the work of community services, chaplaincy and social justice advocacy.
Community organisations across Sydney are urging the Berejiklian government to shift the focus of housing development away from quantity and towards affordability for lower-income earners. The campaign by Uniting and its partners in the Sydney Alliance is pushing strongly for local councils to strengthen their affordability policies – in particular, to ask for inclusion in the government’s State Environmental Planning Policy No. 70 (SEPP70) legislation.
SEPP70 at present only covers a handful of councils – the Sydney Alliance is urging that it be used across Greater Sydney, to give effect to the modest affordability targets approved under the government’s “Three Cities” plan.
The government is reported as having an attack of “cold feet” about new housing initiatives – deferring, or referring to councils, developments it had previously described as “critical” for housing affordability.
Media reports say the Premier is concerned to slow housing development, fearing voter backlash against overdevelopment in the run-up to state elections due in March.
The Sydney Alliance, comprising over 40 non-profit community, faith, trade union and educational organisations, is concerned that addressing Sydney’s serious unaffordability crisis should not be put on the backburner. The Alliance is urging the government to consider that modest developments may be more politically palatable if they’re seen as “doing density well” – improving the liveability and inclusiveness of communities.
Government advisers and experts have warned that Sydney needs to build at least 8,000-12,000 new affordable homes a year to even stop the crisis from escalating.
The Alliance – with the Uniting Church through its agency Uniting and its Social Justice Forum playing a leading role – is continuing to advocate to state and local governments, and to organise community forums to thrash out issues of housing affordability and security for people on lower incomes.
The next of these forums will be held in the Ryde LGA on the evening of Monday September 24. Representatives of federal, state and local governments have been invited to face questions from experts and constituents struggling to find and keep affordable homes among Sydney’s soaring rents – and against falling real minimum incomes.
The Ryde forum will be co-hosted by Vinnies, Uniting and the Alliance. Further forums are being held soon in Parramatta, Canterbury, North Sydney, Drummoyne and more.
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